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I have a pile of magazines with articles in them which I keep meaning to post on.
Consider this ‘from the magazine pile’.
In the August 2012 issue of The Oldie — an informative English magazine anyone over 40 will appreciate — regular columnist Virginia Ironside‘s Granny Annexe article was called ‘Looking good: the older you get, the harder you should try’ (p. 23).
In it, Ironside (b. 1945) criticises the wise woman look, the overly long hair which Hillary Clinton and Cambridge classicist Mary Beard sport. Both women are younger than Ironside. Clinton was born in 1947 and, surprisingly, Beard in 1955.
Ironside advises people to look their best as they age. To subject others to your own ‘repulsive’ personal appearance is ‘rude’.
She uses the expression still popular when I was growing up: ‘letting yourself go’. As my mother was fond of pointing out in the early 1970s, this became ‘letting it all hang out’. And how.
Ironside takes issue with friends of hers who said that it doesn’t matter what we look like when we age. She posits that, the older they get, the more men and women should be conscious of how they present themselves in public.
Ironside says that Moses should have laid down an Eleventh Commandment: ‘Thou shalt do thy best to make the most of thyself, looks-wise, however difficult this may be in the circumstances’.
Our hair, weight, hygiene and clothes speak volumes about us. Ironside is right to say that a careful appearance is a courtesy to others — ‘good manners’, in her words.
I’ve read several times that Hillary Clinton’s daughter Chelsea encouraged the wise woman hair. However, it is not a look which does her credit.
It is possible that Dr Beard thinks that her long grey hair is a becoming trademark. Personally, I find it difficult to look at a photo of her. As such, I certainly couldn’t bear to watch her television documentaries.
For those who are unaware, the name ‘wise woman’ is another appellation for ‘the witch’.
Where I live, I can think of very few older couples who look the way people their age looked when I was young. They are slim, clean and neatly dressed. They adopt a classic style with regard to clothes and hair. They are pleasant to look at and inoffensive to the eye. This was always the case until a few decades ago when those who adopted the slovenly look of the late 1960s aged along with it.
In addition to weight and hair, there is also the matter of personal hygiene. I still remember going to the theatre a few years ago and standing near an older woman whose feet positively stank. The memory of the odour took at least a year to fade.
Finally, there are the aesthetics: excess body hair, skin tags, cysts and moles. In the UK, a good aesthetician can remove these painlessly.
A magical little machine called Applisonix — Israeli technology owned by Americans — gets rid of unwanted hair inside the nostrils, on moles or around the ears.
Applisonix uses ultrasound to remove the hair. This video illustrates its principal use — removal of facial hair on the upper lip:
A good aesthetician should charge £35 or £40 for Applisonix nose and ear hair removal. (They might recommend different techniques for the upper lip, depending on the type of hair.) As the woman in the film says, treatment is necessary only once a month. That is because we produce new hair in the same place. In time, this disappears completely, as the video reveals.
Aestheticians in the UK can now also remove moles for a modest price. One professional I know says this is because the NHS ‘can’t be bothered’ anymore. An aesthetician must earn the proper qualifications for this procedure — this includes clinical training.
These developments are a blessing for Britons young and old. I understand that the UK has some of the most liberal laws surrounding aesthetic treatments, much more so than the United States or France.
We no longer have an excuse for looking dire as we grow older. Let’s take advantage of it. Those who do will find that they develop a good rapport with their aesthetician. They may even get a special price for a grouping of several standard treatments instead of paying à la carte.
Look for someone who is English or speaks the language fluently. They should be friendly, clean, caring, conscientious — and good listeners. There are not many who offer the full gamut of the most advanced techniques, but every region of the country will have at least one or two. A bit of research on the Web will prove fruitful in this regard.
As Virginia Ironside says, looking our best really does exemplify good manners. It is a kindness not only to ourselves but also to others.
I have little time for Christians calling for a redistribution of wealth as a ‘Christlike’ principle. Charity is commonly practised among various world faiths to greater or lesser extents, to the poor and to strangers.
Charity, on its own, does not imply salvation unto eternal life.
As for our own faith, Christ told the Rich Man to give up his possessions which were becoming idolatrous to him. When the Rich Man in his supposed piety could not give these up, Christ left him to his own devices.
St Paul called for charity, but often in contexts meant for fellow church members, not the general populace. He also said that those who do not work shall not eat.
Since the early 1970s, Western welfare systems have become a way of life for some families, in certain cases, spanning three generations as far back as the 1980s.
The taxes — legislated ‘charity’ — on the part of the wealthy are subsidising many, including those who work at low- to medium-paying jobs. The middle classes in North America and Europe are continuously squeezed for more money at every turn.
More and more people are taking from society without putting anything back in — e.g. the famous 47% from the 2012 elections. The knock-on effect is that other services — insurance premiums — go up, too. Again, the middle classes feel this most acutely. Furthermore, how many elderly have had to budget between food and fuel during winter months? This penury has been going on in Britain since the 1990s.
Meanwhile, we read countless newspaper reports of families on the dole who are taking — sometimes scamming the system — and biting the hand that feeds them.
The latest example cited is the Tsarnaev family of the Boston Bombings on April 15, 2013. On April 29, the Boston Herald reported:
The Tsarnaev family, including the suspected terrorists and their parents, benefited from more than $100,000 in taxpayer-funded assistance — a bonanza ranging from cash and food stamps to Section 8 housing from 2002 to 2012, the Herald has learned.
“The breadth of the benefits the family was receiving was stunning,” said a person with knowledge of documents handed over to a legislative committee today.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has handed 500 pages of documents concerning the Tsaraev family to the state’s House Audit and Oversight Committee. They will be working with the welfare — ‘transitional assistance’ — authorities to investigate further.
HotAir’s Allahpundit asked how this involuntary and mandatory public generosity (those words are mine) could lead to such violence and hatred (emphases mine):
The Tsarnaevs are an interesting mix of mundane social pathologies associated with being poor and bigger ideological pathologies that most poor people never harbor. Allegedly, both mama and papa Tsarnaev were shoplifters. Dzhokhar dealt drugs for spending money, some of which may or may not have been put towards bomb manufacture. Tamerlan received welfare up until 2012, the same year he took off to do God knows what in Russia and long after he and mom supposedly had that phone call in 2011 about “jihad.” Instapundit linked this interesting Mickey Kaus piece from 2001 about a terrorism/welfare connection in Europe in which ethnic antagonism causes resentment among immigrants and welfare gives them free time to explore ideology, but I don’t know how much that applies to the Tsarnaevs. Dzhokhar, at least, seemed reasonably well integrated at school; “ethnic antagonism” from the public generally was probably less of a factor for them than for European Muslims because they’re white, although the anecdote in the update here suggests there may be more to it than meets the eye. And further muddying the waters of causation is the apparent fact that Tamerlan was simply a bad seed, especially towards women. What happens when you throw a radical, domineering personality into an already bad mix?
The Mickey Kaus piece from Slate in 2001 to which Allahpundit refers is useful. This has all happened before. Excerpts follow, more at the link. Emphases in the original:
Here are some suspected terrorists in the news:
- Zacarias Moussaoui, the French North African charged with conspiracy in connection with the 9/11 attack, became an Islamic radical living in London “while drawing welfare benefits and studying economics,” Newsday reports.
- Ahmed Ressam, the member of Algeria’s Armed Islamic Group who was arrested crossing the U.S. border with bombs designed to blow up L.A.’s airport, moved to Canada in 1994 where he “survived on welfare payments” and petty crime, according to terrorism expert Peter Bergen.
- Metin Kaplan, who heads a German radical Islamist sect suspected of attempting to fly a plane into the Ataturk mausoleum in Turkey, “claimed social [welfare] benefits in Cologne for many years until 2m Deutschmarks ($1.2m) in cash was found in his flat,” reports the BBC.
- Abu Qatada, the cleric who taught Moussaoui and is accused of having links to al-Qaida agents in six countries, avoided extradition to Jordan on terrorism charges by settling in England, where “[l]ike many other London-based Arab dissidents, [he] has received regular welfare checks from the British government—and government subsidized housing,” according to the Washington Post. Abu Qatada’s welfare payments were stopped when it was discovered he controlled a secret bank account containing approximately $270,000.
Kaus says that welfare is a way of keeping people isolated in poorer suburbs and cities. I’ll get to a few perspectives on that below. He says that work is a much better way of encouraging people to integrate:
Without government subsidies, they would have to overcome the prejudice against them and integrate into the mainstream working culture. Work, in this sense, is anti-terrorist medicine. (And if you work all day, there’s less time to dream up ways and reasons to kill infidels.)
Of course, this is not restricted to Muslim terrorists. Riots and wildings seem to have burst out of nowhere over the past few years in England, the United States and France. The most recent wilding was in Chicago’s main shopping district on Holy Saturday this year involving 500 youths and only 28 arrests. France’s trains are the target of immigrant youths attacking ticket inspectors and robbing passengers. England had a harrowing several days of riots in August 2011.
Most of these youngsters (!) are living off the taxpayer then have the ignominy to demand more from them through crime.
This is an intractable problem.
I’m not really interested in talking about the reasons behind it; we all (should) know what they are. I’ve discussed Marxism, the Frankfurt School, class struggle, the Fabians, Antonio Gramsci, Cloward-Piven Theory, maintaining voting blocs, materialism and so on.
This is a call, for what it’s worth, for welfare reform.
Reform could take decades, because there are too many who have an interest in maintaining what has become a cancerous status quo of state benefits. There are more than the recipients involved.
Inspiration Boost has a graphic of Benjamin Franklin along with his thoughts on the welfare state as he saw it first-hand in the 18th century:
Ace at Ace of Spades explored this, taking into account the terrorism and unrest which welfare seems to breed (language alert in the comments, emphases mine):
I think there’s a sociological reason at play too. People will find something in their lives that gives them meaning.
For many people, work does give their lives meaning. Few like work, but most understand the accomplishment of standing on one’s own feet and providing for oneself (and one’s family).
The welfare state may put food in one’s mouth, but it does so at the expense at stripping a sense of accomplishment, belonging, and meaning from the recipient. And that void will be filled by something else. While people do not require meaning, as a strict biological matter, as they require food, water, air, and shelter, they do crave it– it’s probably on the level, as far as centrality to one’s being, as sex.
I knew an Episcopalian rector who often discussed the meaning that people sensed about their lives. He believed that our searches in life — in addition to salvation, of course — should involve one for meaning: meaningful relationships and meaningful work which help to identify most fully who we are.
Some of Ace’s readers said that the Tsarnaevs’ money wasn’t all that much in the grand scheme of things. Yet, a few others wondered just how many Tsarnaevs there are in America and the rest of the West. Reforming welfare would save money which seems increasingly poorly spent. Our societies see no return from it.
They discussed what welfare really means in reality. Sure, we say that it should be ‘a hand up, not a hand out’, but when three generations have made a lifestyle of sucking at the public teat, that’s hardly the case.
Ace’s readers posited that welfare today is protection money — although riots, wildings and terrorism seem to have put paid to that notion.
A few readers were affronted by their supermarket experiences. They searched for bargains and brandished discount coupons. Their shopping trolleys had minced beef when others had cuts of prime steak. One shopper in the juice aisle took advantage of an own-brand BOGOF; she says she saw a woman nearby put an expensive name brand of juice into her own trolley. Ace’s reader gently called the woman’s attention to the BOGOF. The other woman flashed her EBT (electronic benefits card) and said, ‘That means nothing to me’.
This is theft, friends. Ace’s readers are financing this woman as well as the prime steak purchaser. Yet, the EBT cardholders feel no compunction to live modestly. Hmm.
There is also the notion that welfare, for some, is a form of reparations.
And, for others, it is a form of jizya — a Muslim concept of extorting or taking money from non-Muslims. Ace’s reader Hepcat posted this news story from February 2013 involving the radical preacher Anjem Choudary. Emphases in the original from The Sun, except for those in violet:
SCROUNGING hate preacher Anjem Choudary has told fanatics to copy him by going on benefits — urging: “Claim your Jihad Seeker’s Allowance.”
He cruelly ridiculed non-Muslims who held down 9-to-5 jobs all their lives and said sponging off them made plotting holy war easier.
The Sun secretly filmed him over three meetings also saying leaders such as David Cameron and Barack Obama should be KILLED, grinning as he branded the Queen “ugly” and predicting a “tsunami” of Islamic immigrants would sweep Europe.
“You find people are busy working the whole of their life. They wake up at 7 o’clock. They go to work at 9 o’clock. They work for eight, nine hours a day. They come home at 7 o’clock, watch EastEnders, sleep, and they do that for 40 years of their life. That is called slavery.
“And at the end of their life they realise their pension isn’t going to pay out anything, the mortgage isn’t going to pay out anything.
“Basically they are going to lose everything, commit suicide. What kind of a life is that, honestly. That is the life of kuffar (non-believer)” …
“Democracy, freedom, secularism, the parliament, all the MPs and the Presidents, all the kuffar’s ideas, everything the people worship, we have to believe that they are bad and we have got to reject them.
“Reject them with our tongue. Reject them with our heart. In our heart have hatred towards them.”
The French have a solution for the Abu Qatadas of this world. I do not know if this will continue under Hollande, but Chirac and Sarkozy followed the policy of deporting radicals first — then sifting through evidence and hearing appeals later. The Sun reports that that between 2001 and 2010, France deported 129 suspected Islamic extremists. During that same period, the UK deported only nine.
So, if a few reading this post still think there should be more wealth redistribution, they’re welcome to it. Only please don’t comment here. Your reasoning and your votes are part of the reason we’re in the state we find ourselves today.
It’s hard to pray for those who hate us and rob us, but, somehow, we must find a way. We must also pray for wisdom — in ourselves and others — to help us overcome this oppressive reality.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013 is St George’s Day, celebrated in several European countries and, lest we forget, England.
This year, some English towns and cities — e.g. Plymouth and Manchester — held their St George’s celebrations at the weekend. One international example was London’s Borough Market’s food festival, linked with that of Spain’s Catalonia, where George is also their patron saint.
The painting illustrated is Paolo Uccello’s depiction of the legendary saint slaying the dragon — symbolising, to some, sin and the Devil. Uccello’s painting hangs in the Musée André Jacquemart in Paris.
The funeral of Margaret Hilda Roberts Thatcher — Baroness Thatcher of Kestaven (pron. ‘KESS-tuh-vun’) — was held Wednesday, April 17, 2013 in St Paul’s Cathedral.
My condolences to her family and prayers for them in the weeks ahead as they come to terms with the loss of their mother and grandmother who died at the age of 87.
A brief appraisal of Margaret Thatcher
Britain’s first woman Prime Minister and the longest serving in 150 years was contentious, to say the least — and not just among left-wing agitprop types. Twenty-three years ago, Conservative Party loyalists also thought that it was time for the Iron Lady to stand down. These were people Mrs Thatcher’s age or older who had devoted much free time over the years to their local Conservative Association. They thought that she had started believing her own hype, had served long enough and had damaged the image of the Party. The autumn of 1990 was tense for them as they watched events unfold during the leadership contest, during which she vowed to ‘fight to win’. Eventually, her Cabinet persuaded Mrs Thatcher to withdraw her name from the ballot. Her Chancellor of the Exchequer John Major went on to win the Party leadership vote, replaced her as Prime Minister and went on to win the General Election of 1992. He lost to Tony Blair in 1997.
It is for this reason that Margaret Thatcher is anathema in our household, along with Princess Diana, Tony Blair, the Pope, Obama and Mormons. (The last two meant that any conversations about the 2012 US election were short-lived!)
That said, I would rather have had her as Prime Minister than not. Margaret Thatcher knew her own mind and had a strong sense of morality. I don’t agree with all of her decisions, however, we must not forget the Winter of Discontent under her predecessor, Labour’s James Callaghan. That period between 1978 and 1979 was the last straw for many British voters. Indeed, it was the sort of national debacle that can happen only under a left-wing government. It was against this backdrop that Margaret Thatcher won the 1979 election. I’m oversimplifying for reasons of space. My British readers — no agitprop, please — are welcome to contribute their memories of this time in the comments.
Personally, I look at the larger picture of a woman born a grocer’s daughter who worked as a chemist (incidentally, on the formula for the soft ice cream Mr Whippy), then became a Member of Parliament at a time when only 4 per cent of MPs were women, eventually becoming Prime Minister. That is an incredible achievement. Some Western countries have never elected a woman to that or a similar position — France and the United States, to name but two.
Unlike some female politicians, Margaret Thatcher always looked and acted like a lady. She had a certain style which was all her own — one which attracted the respect and admiration of powerful men — without ever debasing herself or her office. Everyone knew that she was a loving wife to her husband Denis (d. 2003), a devoted mother to Carol and Mark and a faithful Christian (initially in the Methodist Church, then the Church of England).
It has been heartening to read the many fulsome comments in Baroness Thatcher’s memory from Americans and the French in mainstream fora. Most wished that they, too, had a Mrs Thatcher as head of state. So do I.
The other tribute which struck me was Labour leader Ed Milliband’s, which I saw replayed on Andrew Neil’s politics show (BBC) on Sunday. It was gracious and generous, considering how opposite they were politically. Apparently, the panellists said, Milliband wanted to ‘go even further’ but Labour advised against it.
Two final thoughts. One, Mrs Thatcher did not need feminism; she made her own way in the world. Two, she might well have been the last Prime Minister to love England.
Before she died, Baroness Thatcher expressed her wish for a religious funeral. She made it clear that she did not want a state funeral. David Cameron and the Conservatives took that into account but decided that she deserved a ceremony which remembered her 11-year leadership and included those who fought in the Falklands War in 1982.
The Queen felt moved to attend the funeral, the first of a Prime Minister she has attended since Winston Churchill’s nearly 50 years ago, in 1965.
As we are unlikely to witness a politician’s funeral of this magnitude anytime soon, it seems worth recording for those who are interested in finding out more about the protocol surrounding such an event.
This is not an encyclopaedic account of the funeral, by the way. Information on the procession and funeral quotes comes from a live blog of her funeral, the order of service and from the BBC1 broadcast of the ceremony, presented by David Dimbleby. My apologies to British readers if I have some of the following titles incorrect.
On Tuesday, April 16, Baroness Thatcher’s coffin was in the Parliamentary chapel, St Mary Undercroft, overnight. The 79th Chaplain to the Speaker of the House, the Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin, kept vigil. That evening, the Thatcher family and others — 150 people altogether — participated in a brief service in the chapel.
A funeral procession with a hearse processed from Parliament towards St Paul’s. The streets were lined with well wishers. At St Clement Danes in the Strand — the central church of the Royal Air Force (RAF) — the hearse stopped and the coffin was transferred to a gun carriage which was part of an Armed Forces procession from there to the cathedral.
Participating in the military procession were battalions which had seen active service in the Falklands War. Included were the RAF, the Royal Navy, the Royal Ghurka Rifles, Scots Guards, Royal Artillery, 3 Battalion Parachute Regiment, 9 Parachute Squadron Royal Engineers, 40 Commando Royal Marines. The Royal Marines Band from Portsmouth on the south coast played funeral marches by Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Chopin.
During that time, the Honourable Artillery Company fired a gun salute at one-minute intervals from the Tower of London. The gun salute was timed to stop when the procession reached St Paul’s.
A guard of honour from the 1st Batallion Welsh Guards met the procession at the cathedral.
The eight pall bearers were from other Army, Royal Navy and RAF units and stations with links to the Falklands War. Major Nick Mott of the Welsh Guards led the pall bearers. He had served in the Falklands in 1982.
2,300 people attended Baroness Thatcher’s funeral. The Queen and Prince Philip arrived from Windsor exactly 15 minutes before the ceremony began. Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, had been the first to arrive at 9:30. Several members of the Thatcher Cabinet attended, among them Sir John Major, Lord Carrington, Lord (Cecil) Parkinson, Sir Nigel Lawson, Lord (Michael) Heseltine, Baron (Douglas) Hurd, Sir Geoffrey Howe, Sir Norman Tebbit and Baron (Leon) Brittan. Sir Bernard Ingham, synonymous with ‘No. 10′ as her press secretary sat with his former colleagues. Current Conservative MPs and cabinet members were also in the congregation along with Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and William Hague. The Conservative Mayor of London Boris Johnson and former Speaker of the House Betty Boothroyd were also there.
Among those from the Labour Party were the current Leader of the Opposition Ed Milliband, Tony and Cherie Blair as well as Gordon and Sarah Brown.
A number of Liberal Democrats also attended, including Dame Shirley Williams, Baron (David) Steel, Baron (David) Owen as well as Nick and Miriam Clegg.
Among the entertainers and broadcasters in the congregation were Dame Shirley Bassey, Katherine Jenkins, Sir Terry Wogan and Jeremy Clarkson. Journalists included John Sergeant, Kelvin Mackenzie, Matthew Parris and Peter Jenkins.
Lady Thatcher’s two full-time carers were also among the congregation as were several members of the armed forces who saw active service in the Falklands, such as Simon Weston — probably the most famous veteran.
Foreign countries also sent representatives. The United States sent George Shultz and James Baker (both from the Reagan era), Henry Kissinger and Dick Cheney. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended for Israel. Elisabeth Guigou, adviser to the Mitterand government (1980s), represented France. Mario Monti represented Italy. Kuwait sent Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Sabah, the son of the ruler of Kuwait Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmed Al Sabah. Former president FW de Klerk represented South Africa.
Lady Thatcher’s grandchildren — Amanda and Michael — processed with the coffin down the central aisle towards the bier in front of the altar. Each carried a purple cushion. One had the insignia of the Order of the Garter and the other that of the Order of Merit. They placed the cushions one on either side of the bier.
The Very Revd David Ison, Dean of St Paul’s (post-Occupy), led the service. He gave a brief, gracious introduction about the life of Lady Thatcher and the values by which she lived.
Everyone then recited the Lord’s Prayer.
The congregation then sang the first hymn, ‘He Who Would Valiant Be’ (Monks Gate). Paul Bunyan, incidentally, wrote the lyrics, which conclude with:
I’ll fear not what men say
I’ll labour night and day
To be a pilgrim.
Lady Thatcher’s granddaughter Amanda, aged 19, read the first reading, Ephesians 6:10-18, which is read at the funeral of every member of the Order of the Garter. It includes these verses:
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
The men’s and boy’s choir of St Paul’s then sang an anthem by Henry Purcell, ‘Hear My Prayer, O Lord’, which is based on Psalm 102. Among the verses in that Psalm are the following:
25Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands.
26They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed:
27But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.
Prime Minister David Cameron took the second reading, John 14:1-6:
1Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. 4And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. 5Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? 6Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
The choir sang a second anthem, one which Lady Thatcher chose for her husband Denis’s funeral: ‘How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place’, based on Psalm 84 with music by Brahms. Psalm 84 ends with these verses:
11For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.
12O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.
The Bishop of London, the Right Revd Richard Chartres, delivered the address, which gave us an insight into the spiritual thoughts of Lady Thatcher.
Chartres was careful to say at the start — and more eloquently than I express it here — that whilst people had varying opinions of Lady Thatcher, the congregation should consider her funeral a time for ‘reconciling’ and hope.
He recalled the kindness and courtesy she extended to those who worked for her over the decades. He also remembered the careful attention she took when replying to youngsters who wrote to her. Among them was a nine-year old David Cameron. His letter recounted a discussion he had with his father. David said that he reckoned that Mrs Thatcher never did anything wrong. His father gently corrected him saying that, among those on Earth, only Jesus was perfect. David then decided to write to the Prime Minister who replied (somewhat paraphrased):
However good we try to be we can never be as kind, gentle and good as Jesus.
The Bishop then described her home life and the Church whilst she was growing up. The Roberts family attended their Methodist Church in Grantham, Lincolnshire, twice on Sundays and once during the week. Jesus Christ was at the forefront of their lives.
In adulthood, he said that, as a woman, Lady Thatcher had many hurdles to climb. When she entered Parliament in 1959 (representing Finchley in North London) as a wife and mother, only four per cent of Parliamentarians were women. She experienced many rebuffs from people who did not think that women had any place in political life.
He then explored a few of Lady Thatcher’s personal beliefs:
- Christianity offers no easy solutions to political and social issues.
- Family lies at the heart of society and civic virtue. It can be easily eroded. (He then discussed the taking out of context that people did when Lady Thatcher said, ‘There is no such thing as society’.)
- Individual independence is essential to living a Christian life. This meeting of individuals leads to an interdependence as we lean on each other and upon Christ.
Chartres then remembered Lady Thatcher’s ‘lifelong dependence’ on her husband Denis, recalling that his death ‘was a great blow indeed’.
He asked the congregation to remember God’s generosity in giving us the gift of His only Son, Jesus Christ. He also recognised that, at times like these, we also take stock of our own lives. How have we lived? What will people remember of us?
One of his final remarks was recalling what Lady Thatcher said the Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) Assembly (somewhat paraphrased):
I leave you with the earnest hope that we all may come closer to that other country in ways of gentleness and peace.
The congregation then sang the famous Wesley hymn, ‘Love Divine, All Loves Excelling’ (Blaenwern).
Afterward, four clergy offered prayers in Lady Thatcher’s memory: Chaplain to the Speaker of the House, the Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin; the Most Revd Patrick Kelly, Bishop Emeritus of the (Catholic) Diocese of Liverpool; the Revd William Hall of the American Church and the Revd Ruth Gee, President Designate to the Methodist Convention.
The choir sang the final anthem, ‘May Angels Lead You Into Paradise’ from Fauré’s Requiem Mass.
The Revd Sarah Eynstone, Minor Canon and Chaplain at St Paul’s then read a short prayer.
The congregation then sang a rousing rendition of ‘I Vow to Thee My Country’ (Thaxted). Between them and the choir’s superb singing, I thought the dome of St Paul’s might lift off. It was a glorious moment and a perfect one for the end of a funeral.
Bishop Chartres gave a blessing, followed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, whose blessing included this petition:
Grant us a safe passage and Your holy blessing.
The pall bearers then came to gather the casket for the procession out of the cathedral. They were led by two clergy from St Paul’s, each of them carrying one of the aforementioned velvet cushions.
A soloist sang the Nunc Dimittis, another hauntingly beautiful moment from this historic ceremony.
The Thatcher family processed behind the coffin, followed at some distance by the Queen and Prince Philip. Once outside, the Thatchers watched as the pall bearers carefully placed the coffin in the hearse with a cushion on each side. The Queen and Prince Philip, accompanied by St Paul’s clergy, watched this from some distance away, on the top step of the cathedral.
Afterward, the Queen and Prince Philip allowed the Thatchers a few minutes among themselves before walking down to express their condolences and talk for a while.
The hearse proceeded via a different route to the Royal Hospital Chelsea and from there to Mortlake Crematorium, west of London.
The Thatchers and a small party of friends attended a reception at the Guildhall in the City of London.
In closing, the BBC’s David Dimbleby called our attention to the motto on Baroness Thatcher’s Order of Merit cushion:
On Friday, April 12, 2013, France’s Senate passed legislation approving same-sex marriage. It now remains for their Parliament and Senate to debate and vote on the bill’s amendments.
France has had civil unions (PACS), also open to same-sex couples, for several years. However, the same-sex marriage law would codify other aspects of life as a couple, including adoption and assisted reproduction.
The proposed legislation has stimulated lively debate and demonstrations throughout the country. Whilst nearly two-thirds of French people do not mind same-sex marriage, the possibility of adoption and IVF in that context are more contentious.
Some French people have also been asking what the next marriage law will entail — and rightly so. What about polygamy? Bestiality? Incest?
British actor Jeremy Irons asked whether a man might someday be able to marry his adult son for favourable tax reasons. On April 3, 2013, he discussed this with Huffington Post presenter Josh Zepps. You can see the short video there; I was unable to embed it.
Irons, a modern Catholic, happily married to actress Sinéad Cusack since 1978, was careful to couch his language which wasn’t so much about same-sex couples per se as the evolution of laws relating to marriage and family — the same concerns the French have.
Could a father not marry his son? … It’s not incest between men. Incest is there to protect us from inbreeding, but men don’t breed… If that were so, then if I wanted to pass on my estate without death duties, I could marry my son and pass on my estate to him.
I can see that happening, not immediately, but possibly within a decade or so. Denny Burk Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College, the undergraduate arm of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY, points out that this is not an unrealistic eventuality. He cites a Harvard Law Review article from 2006 which discusses incest laws which have been repealed:
The criminal statutes vary widely; indeed, a few states impose no criminal penalties whatsoever on incestuous behavior. Rhode Island repealed its criminal incest statute in 1989, Ohio’s criminal statute targets only parental figures, and New Jersey does not punish acts committed when both parties are over eighteen years old. [source]
The other eventuality I see is the legalisation of polygamy in an effort to please European Muslims. Around ten years ago comments appeared on mainstream British fora suggesting that Britain’s Labour government had turned a blind eye to polygamous unions among obscurantist Muslims; with these went increased tax breaks as more dependents were involved. I haven’t seen any evidence for this, but it would not surprise me if it turned out to be true for tiny pockets of the population. Some mainstream Frenchmen also voice the same suspicions online; again, there is no firm evidence yet that this is occurring.
With regard to parenthood, the same-sex marriage debate has raised interesting legal points on the future of the family. In the United States, CNS reported on March 3, 2013, that the Department of Justice and the American Psychological Association find no evidence that heterosexual couples are necessary to raise children:
“As an initial matter, no sound basis exists for concluding that same-sex couples who have committed to marriage are anything other than fully capable of responsible parenting and child-rearing,” the Department of Justice told the court. “To the contrary, many leading medical, psychological, and social-welfare organizations have issued policy statements opposing restrictions on gay and lesbian parenting based on their conclusion, supported by numerous scientific studies, that children raised by gay and lesbian parents are as likely to be well adjusted as children raised by heterosexual parents.”
“The weight of the scientific literature strongly supports the view that same-sex parents are just as capable as opposite-sex parents,” says the administration.
To support this argument, one of the documents the administration cites is a “policy statement” by the American Psychological Association. This statement claims that some studies indicate same-sex parents might be “superior” to mother-and-father families, but then concedes there is little actual data on the results of raising children in two-father households.
CNS pulls this together for us (emphases mine):
So far in the history of the human race, no child has ever been born without a biological father and mother. Now, in the Supreme Court of the United States, the Executive Branch of the federal government is arguing that, regardless of the biological facts of parenthood, states have no legitimate and defenisble interest in ensuring that children conceived by a mother and a father are in fact raised by mothers and fathers.
The brief that the Justice Department presented to the Supreme Court discussed children only as items controlled by others, not as individual human beings who have God-given rights of their own. It simply assumes that a child has no inherent right to a mother or father and that the only right truly in question is whether two people of the same-sex have a right to marry one another and that that right encompasses a right to adopt and foster-raise children.
To take this view and be consistent with the principles of the Declaration of Independence—which recognizes the ultimate authority of the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” and says that “all men are created equal” and “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”—the Obama Justice Department must advance the assumption that natural law and Nature’s God give children no right to a mother and father and no right not to be legally handed over by the government to be raised by same-sex couples.
Something to consider.
In the meantime, let us pray for the future of Western society.
Winter weather in the UK continues unabated.
Even where there is no snow, the temperatures are cold. Easter Sunday was glacial with few daffodils and only the tiniest hints of Spring. After church, one woman said she’d been living in her boots for months. I know what she means, having worn the same pair of heavy-soled shoes for the better part of five months.
I put the frost guards on the plants sometime during the second half of October 2012. Weather contrarian Piers Corbyn — nearly always accurate — says our Siberian-style weather may continue into mid-April.
Before March ended, British weather watchers wondered if March 2013 would set a new record. Indeed it did. Records for tracking winter weather began in 1910:
Average temperatures between March 1 and 26 were just 2.5C (36.5F), three degrees below the long-term average, according to the Met Office. This would make it the coldest March since 1962 and also the fourth coldest in the UK since records began in 1910.
The missing year here is 1947, when rationing was still in effect, although the Second World War had ended. There was also no widespread central heating in houses, so it must have been bitter.
As for March 2013:
Looking at individual countries, it said March would be the fourth coldest on record for England, joint third coldest for Wales, joint eighth coldest for Scotland and sixth coldest for Northern Ireland.
Sunday was also reported to be the coldest Easter day on record, with the mercury falling to minus 12.5C ([-]9.5F) in Braemar in the Scottish Highlands.
Piers Corbyn’s forecasts over the past several months show trends of weather patterns persisting for weeks on end. I started reading his site in June 2012, just after the Queen’s Jubilee Weekend. He believes that we are in a Mini Ice Age. More recently, I have been able to predict what British weather will be from French forecasts, as cold fronts have been moving from the Arctic then generally east to west across the English Channel. It seems that even the Côte d’Azur has had more snow than Greater London this year.
These persistent patterns are similar to the long-lasting meteorological phenomenon known as the Maunder Minimum, when
very few sunspots were observed. This was not due to a lack of observations; during the 17th century, Giovanni Domenico Cassini carried out a systematic program of solar observations at the Observatoire de Paris, thanks to the astronomers Jean Picard and Philippe de La Hire. Johannes Hevelius also performed observations on his own …
During the Maunder Minimum enough sunspots were sighted so that 11-year cycles could be extrapolated from the count. The maxima occurred in 1676, 1684, 1695, 1705 and 1716.
It was not uncommon during this period of the 17th century for winter fairs to be held on a frozen Thames. Not only was the river able to accommodate market stalls but also winter sports.
The term Maunder Minimum
was introduced after John A. Eddy published a landmark 1976 paper in Science titled “The Maunder Minimum”. Astronomers before Eddy had also named the period after the solar astronomer Edward W. Maunder (1851–1928) who studied how sunspot latitudes changed with time. The periods he examined included the second half of the 17th century. Edward Maunder published two papers in 1890 and 1894, and he cited earlier papers written by Gustav Spörer.
During one 30-year period within the Maunder Minimum, Spörer observed less than 50 sunspots, as opposed to a more typical 40,000–50,000 spots in modern times.
Corbyn also does US weather maps which show similar systems of what we consider unseasonable cold. In March, Corbyn correctly predicted snow over Easter weekend. From what I read on American sites, some Easter Egg hunts had to be held in the snow this year.
In any event, it appears the cause for our cold weather in northern climes is because of less sun activity, most recently a coronal hole, a picture of which can be seen on Corbyn’s weather page.
This would tie in with what occurred during the Maunder Minimum centuries ago — please note the mention of wood used in Stradivarius instruments:
The Maunder Minimum coincided with the middle—and coldest part—of the Little Ice Age, during which Europe and North America were subjected to bitterly cold winters. A causal connection between low sunspot activity and cold winters has recently been made using data from the NASA’s Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment which shows that solar UV output is more variable over the course of the solar cycle than scientists had previously thought, and a UK scientific team published in the Nature Geoscience journal a link that ties this variability to terrestrial climate impacts in the form of warmer winters in some places and colder winters in others. The winter of 1708–9 was extremely cold.
Some scientists hypothesize that the dense wood used in Stradivarius instruments was caused by slow tree growth during the cooler period. Instrument maker Antonio Stradivari was born a year before the start of the Maunder Minimum.
UPDATE: It snowed in central London on Thursday, April 4, and some of the capital’s suburbs also experienced flurries for much of the day. I mentioned France earlier. The northern part of the country has had the coldest March since records began. The previous record was set in 1987, then, going back, 1970, 1962 and 1955. In the South, the Cote d’Azur experienced record rainfalls, two to four times greater than normal. There is no relief in sight, says Météo France, until — possibly — this weekend or early next week.
The word ‘authentic’ is in the title because crumble is intended as an all-in-one pudding, probably the easiest of baked desserts to prepare.
It is unfathomable that French and American cooks, whether on television or at home, would separate the crumble mix from the fruit then marry them up only when serving. That is a food sacrilege, a violation of the crumble principle: keep it simple. The idea is to get a transition — rather than a sharp contrast — from the crunchy crumble topping to a melding of fruit and topping.
With Britain’s Mothering Sunday coming up in a few days’ time on Laetare Sunday, a delicious fruit crumble is a delightful treat with which to surprise Mum. Children will enjoy mixing the crumble topping. Dad or an older son / daughter can take care of oven duties.
You will need a medium-sized Pyrex-type dish with deep sides or standard pie dish (nothing too large) and a medium-sized mixing bowl.
Authentic English Fruit Crumble
(Prep time: 10 – 15 minutes; baking time: 30 – 40 minutes; yield: four to six portions)
250 – 300g (8 – 10 oz.) fresh or frozen fruit (plums [pips removed], soft fruits and/or apples, which should be peeled and cored)
1 – 2 tbsp sugar (depending on the tartness of the fruit — sample the fruit beforehand to determine)
140g (5 oz.) plain flour
80 g (3 oz.) light brown sugar
50 g (2 oz) cubes of softened butter or butter spread (70% butter, 30% vegetable oil)
1/ Preheat oven to 190° C (375° F) for a conventional cooker (180° C — 350°F — for a fan — convection — oven).
2/ Slice fruit (e.g. plums, apples) in thin or thinnish slices, if necessary. One plum — no pip — should yield eight slices. An apple should be cut in slices of 1/2 a centimetre or 1/8″. If you are using cherries, please ensure you remove the stones beforehand. You can do this with a cherry stoner or by carefully cutting part of the cherry and squeezing out the stone.
3/ Place fruit in the Pyrex dish.
4/ Sprinkle 1 – 2 tbsp sugar evenly over the fruit.
5/ In a medium-sized bowl rub together with your (clean!) fingertips the plain flour, light brown sugar and butter or butter spread cubes until you get a sandy texture. This will take a few minutes. Some Englishwomen rub the flour and butter together first, then add the brown sugar, rubbing the three ingredients together again until well incorporated.
6/ Sprinkle the crumble topping evenly all over the fruit, ensuring you reach the edges of the dish.
7/ Place the crumble in the oven and bake for 30 – 40 minutes. Check after 30 minutes and see step 8 to determine whether it is done. The length of time depends on the type and the ripeness of the fruit.
8/ The crumble will be done when the fruit and juices boil rapidly underneath the crumble topping. The crumble topping should be golden brown. N.B.: If the fruit begins to ‘weep’ along the outer edges of the dish, the crumble is definitely done. Try to avoid this, although it is a common occurrence with frozen fruit.
9/ Remove the crumble from the oven and place on a trivet or chopping board to cool for approximately one hour. Hot fruit is bad for the digestion.
10/ Spoon into dishes and serve with vanilla custard, crème Chantilly or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
11/ To store, cover and leave in a cool place (larder or refrigerator). To serve the next day, remove from your cool storage space and allow it to reach room temperature. Do not reheat, otherwise the crumble topping will melt and become soggy.